All systems go: Jackie Gosselar on rowing, Phoebe Bridgers, and connecting the UC Berkeley Library’s treasures with the world

Illustration portrait of Jackie Gosselar
Jackie Gosselar manages the systems that connect the UC Berkeley Library’s materials with the world. Read about their colleague, Raquel Moral, in the Library Human Resources Department. (Illustration by Aisha Hamilton/UC Berkeley Library)

On paper, Jackie Gosselar’s job sounds technical — and it is.

But when you boil it down, it’s about people.

Gosselar earned a master’s in library and information science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before that, they spent their undergraduate years studying art history and anthropology, the latter figuring into their job at the UC Berkeley Library in surprising ways.

“I’m really interested in group dynamics, how we can learn from each other, and how you can build capacity and expertise,” says Gosselar, the Library’s head of systems and discovery services. “What I really value about system management is the relationships that you build along the way.”

In the summer of 2021, a monumental change swept across the University of California’s libraries: the launch of UC Library Search, a milestone in a sprawling, yearslong collaborative project spanning the UC system. The platform brings the collections of all of UC’s libraries under one virtual roof, and connects users to a wide world of information. At UC Berkeley, Gosselar is the de facto product manager of the newly implemented cataloging system, which allows staff to organize and manage the Library’s collections, and UC Library Search, which helps people around the globe find them.

“It was such a big collective effort,” Gosselar says of the journey leading up to the launch, which overlapped with the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s sometimes amazing to think about the capacity people had for this transformational change during a time of such turmoil and upheaval.”

Witnessing UC Library Search go live across the UC system was an “exciting, cathartic moment,” Gosselar says, but the launch was just the beginning. In the days and months since, Gosselar has been working with a vast network of people to tweak and refine the platform, providing a better experience for everyone who uses it — while forging and solidifying relationships in the process. In fact, through their work on the project, Gosselar met their best friend, a colleague at UC Santa Cruz.

“Because of the nature of my position, I get to talk to a lot of people,” Gosselar says. “Building these relationships that are professionally and personally fulfilling — that’s the best part about being here. There are so many brilliant, wonderful people.”

In their free time, Gosselar enjoys going to concerts, often with their friend from UC Santa Cruz, and counts Sylvan Esso, Phoebe Bridgers (“amazing,” Gosselar says), Grouplove, and Metric among the acts they’ve seen recently. Gosselar also enjoys competitive rowing, a hobby they picked up during the pandemic.

Five days a week, before work, Gosselar heads to the Oakland-Alameda Estuary to be out on the water with fellow members of the nonprofit East Bay Rowing Club. Like Gosselar’s work at the Library, rowing requires harmony and close collaboration with other people. Progress can be gradual, and one tiny adjustment can ripple into something much bigger.

“There are these little incremental changes that improve efficiency,” Gosselar says. “It’s hard to do these big leaps — they happen, but most of the time it’s these little tweaks that you’re making along with other people that are making the boat go faster or making the product work better.”